Categories (Revised October 2011)
Tournament of the Golden Swan
Each candidate must compete in ten categories. The first eight categories are REQUIRED. Candidates must then choose 2 of the last 3, for a total of 10 categories.
Choose 2 of the following:
Documentation is strongly recommended for all categories as well as for the overall persona. Documentation, whether written or visual, should be directed at the specific choices made for each category wherever possible. Citations should follow a standard format for footnotes and bibliography, but at a minimum, a citation must allow the judges to find the book, periodical, article or website specified.
Tell us how they did it in period, how you did it and why. Keep track of where you got information and pictures, so the judges can follow your train of thought. The more educated your judges are about your persona's history and culture, and the easier you make it for them to do their jobs, the more likely you are to succeed at Golden Swan.
Persona Creation: Applicants must develop an authentic and logical persona that follows the parameters of SCA from 600 – 1600, based on historical research and data.. This persona cannot be an existing historical or literary character. Information provided in this competition must include full name and date of birth, present age, place of birth and current residence, a brief genealogy that includes present social position, and a brief personal history.
Applicants must demonstrate a working knowledge of their culture's courtesy and etiquette throughout the event by their deportment. Topics of conversation with judges will include addressing nobility and servants, table manners (for your persona), and, of course, courtliness and common consideration and politeness.
Applicants must stay in persona throughout the judging period (roughly 9 am on Saturday to the judges' conclave on Sunday) except in their personal spaces (camping areas or sleeping areas) or the bathroom. If an applicant smokes or uses prescription drugs or has other critical non-period needs, these must be explained ahead of time to the judging co-ordinator, and handled out of sight of the judges. Normal aids such as eyeglasses, hearing aids and so on will be disregarded by the judges. However, applicants should do their best to keep elective non-period aspects of their outside life (i.e. obviously artificial fingernails) to a minimum.
Correspondence (or Communication at a Distance) (formerly Calligraphy): Applicants shall create a hand-written communication from, or on behalf of, their persona. This will most often take the form of a letter of introduction or a request or guarantee of safe passage, and should take the form of typical documents of the persona's era and culture (presumably, all cultures that can be researched have had access to some form of written communication at some time). Only one 8 1/2" x 11" sheet (or equivalent) must meet the judging criteria. The criteria listed here is a minimum standard, it is not designed to limit creativity.
Skills and Technologies: Each applicant shall display and demonstrate a skill or proficiency appropriate to their persona. This skill can either be something not covered in either categories, or something from another category carried to a higher level of mastery. Judging is done through a display and/or demonstration to the judges, and discussion between the judges and the applicant. The applicant must have first-hand knowledge of the skill, even if demonstration is difficult or impossible. Book learning alone is not adequate.
Costuming: Applicants must make one complete and detailed costume for their persona, including undergarments, overgarments and headwear. Hand sewing is not required. Other garments or outfits may be made by other people, and accessories such as purse, shoes and belts may be made by other craftsmen, but the applicant must construct one complete outfit. This category will be judged as a demonstration in which the applicant displays or demonstrates her attire to the judges. Judging will be based on construction and design. Applicants may be asked to show the inside of their clothing, but if this is done, it will be done in a discreet manner and will not include the innermost layer of clothing.
Textile and Fiber Arts (was Needlework): Applicants must make 2 textile or fiber items: a hand-stitched or hand-worked article suitable for a presentation or gift, and a utilitarian article. Suggested applications: embroidery, needlepoint, appliqué, lace making, weaving, bullion work, spinning, weaving, felting, sprang or other "needlework" appropriate to the persona. These entries may be incorporated into the persona's costume or accessories.
Documentation is required.
Judging for the following 3 categories may take place in an informal gathering or roundtable discussion in which personas might discuss the visit of a reigning monarch, the guild they belong to, anticipation of an upcoming holiday, their position in society. Examples are endless.
Everyday Life: Applicants must demonstrate a knowledge of everyday occurrences in the life of their persona, such as hobbies, pastimes, daily routine, religious observances, household duties (e.g. meal planning, entertainment, accommodations for visiting dignitaries and entourage, etc.), community obligations, and other personal duties or needs of their persona.
Food: The candidate should be able to discuss food and diet in general. Should have knowledge of sources of food (grown on own lands, imported, trade, etc.), preparation and storage methods, the equipment used for these, fast and feast days and customs for persona, restrictions on diet, any philosophy of food common to the era or culture. Cooking or food preparation CAN form part of this category, but is NOT required. You may want to bring food as part of a demonstration of hospitality.
Habitat: The candidate must display a working knowledge of the persona's home such as that displayed during the Everyday Life discussion. She should also have good overall knowledge of shelter in general in her time period and culture, the geography of her home and any other areas she should be familiar with, climate, who lives with or near her, sources of water, disposal of waste. Due to the time of year of the event, as well as the cost of period camping or authentic furnishings, judging of these categories will focus on discussion and knowledge rather than demonstration.
Since Everyday Life, Food, and Habitat overlap so much, they are normally judged at a single roundtable discussion, but time will be allotted on the schedule as if these are 3 separate categories, to allow for breaks or preparation as needed. The Judging Co-ordinator or a designated judge will monitor the questions and watch the time, to ensure the judges are satisfied that the criteria for each category have been met, even if discussion sometimes wanders.
Optional Categories: Candidates must choose 2 out of the following 3 categories. Each of these categories may require special arrangements, so each must be chosen on the application form; including preferred location or time, solo or accompanied, and whether the shire needs to provide additional personnel or equipment.
Games and Pastimes: Applicants must show proficiency in, and ability to teach, one indoor and one outdoor activity appropriate to their persona. Suggested indoor games: chess, nine-men's morris. Suggested outdoor games: jeu-de-boules (bocce), Prisoner's Base. These are considered the "standard" European games for the category. The applicant may substitute another activity, indoor or outdoor, that is appropriate to their time period or culture. Examples may include riddles, string games or figures, word games. Documentation is required for all games and pastimes. It may be necessary for the candidate to discuss methods of judging for any non-standard pastimes.
Performance: Applicants must perform two pieces appropriate to their persona. At least one must be documentable period for their persona. These may include a song, story, poem or dance of reasonable length (3 to 5 minutes per piece as an estimate). Performances may be done solo or with others. Performances do not need to be memorized, but performance style must be suitable for the persona.
Venue for the performance may be at the Saturday night feast as the standard choice, or at another time and location. This must be specified to the Judging Co-ordinator in advance so arrangements can be made if needed. If accompaniment is required, the applicant must provide their own music on CD (iPod or other MP3 player may be possible, please make specific arrangements prior to the event) or arrange for musicians themselves.
Survival Techniques: Applicants must prove their ability to survive a hostile situation. Techniques should coincide (loosely) with what is appropriate to their persona. Techniques may include any of those below, but if you can convince the Judging Co-ordinator of a feasible method of testing, others may be chosen. If a technique other than those listed is selected, the candidate must be prepared to demonstrate proficiency in a standard technique, should the judges require an alternative.
Documentation is required. It should include the availability of specific weapons or methods, and that it was acceptable or possible for a woman of this specific period and culture to use and practice this skill. Knowledge of weaponry specific to the person should be indicated, but demonstration will be confined to SCA-legal weapons, protection and procedures.
Standard Survival Skills:
a) Poisoning - the universal "women's weapon." It is assumed that most women will have access to common poisons and knowledge of, or access to knowledge of, their use in any time period or culture. Documentation does not need to prove this assumption, but will specify the poison used, its availability, symptoms and results, methods of preparation and application. The poisoning will be judged both on the documentation provided, and on a "poisoning" at the feast on Saturday night. Victims will be assigned and a poison substitute (usually hard candies but occasionally stickers or other unpredictable means) will be provided by the shire. Bribing or coercion of witnesses and other parties will be considered in terms of their effectiveness in furthering the survival of the persona.
b) Archery or Thrown Weapons: will be judged on the range in a standard format.
c) Sword and Shield: will be judged in the fighting field in a tournament style situation. The candidate may be entered in the tournament of the day, or a special combat or series of bouts can be arranged, depending on schedule and the candidate's preference. The term "sword and shield" can apply to heavy armoured combat or to rapier within the SCA context, but documentation must show that the historical technique would have been used by and accessible to women in their culture and time period.